I have always been proud of the cast of characters and trailblazers that comprises my family tree, but my genealogical background has always been a bit at odds with my taste buds.
My descendants were, for the most part, “straight up English” with a smattering of Hungarians on my mother’s side, as I once told a teacher. While fish and chips and chicken paprikash are fine and dandy, I prefer to go Greek whenever possible.
Washington has provided a multitude of options to indulge in my obsession with Mediterranean cuisine. Zaytinya became the token place to take my parents, and I frequented the Greek deli down the street more often than I care to admit.
It wasn’t until my second year in the city that I discovered the spot that would become my default location for date nights, happy hours, and—upon discovering their fast-casual option—take-out: Cava. The great atmosphere, delicious cocktails and inventive menu are reliable and fun, so Cori Sue and I were delighted when we were invited in for brunch a few weeks ago.
Treating us to brunch that day was Cava’s marketing mastermind and brand strategist, Nikki Rappaport (also known to many of you as the baked-goods goddess behind Cupcakes for Breakfast). We met Nikki at Cava’s Eastern Market location on a blustery Sunday morning.
Nestled into a spacious back booth we caught up on important matters (baked goods, boys, and various Bitches-in-common) and ordered a round of drinks. Nikki went for a light and bubbly mimosa; I sampled the perfectly spiced and decked out Bloody Mary; and CS went for fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, as she had plans of productivity later in the day.
Over our tasty bevs, Nikki explained that the Cava crew was very excited to break into the brunch scene with a menu that wed the restaurant’s signature, modern take on Mediterranean fare with an array of breakfast staples. While diners can order brunch cocktails a la carte, the $30 bottomless deal offers all-you-can-eat food along with penny mimosas, $2 Bloodys and $2 beers.
After much analysis, we dove right in and ordered a smorgasbord of dishes to share. First up was the French toast. I am a fanatic about honey, so this rendition made out of challah bread cooked until the outside was crispy and glazed was just perfect. Cori Sue agrees it was one of the best French toast experiences she’s ever had.
Next up was the Spicy Lamb Benedict. I am a pretty adventurous carnivore so this dish appealed to me as a unique take on a Bitch breakfast favorite. The meat was tender and unexpectedly complimented the spicy Hollandaise and egg.
Cori Sue was a fan of the brunch hanger steak, which was also served with an egg and a side of refreshing, flavorful salsa verde. The hanger steak was tender and incredibly flavorful. Cava provides a very generous portion of protein on each small plate, and this was no exception.
The gyro hash was my personal favorite item, as it reminded me of the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ scrambles my Dad concocts when I am visiting. The combination of gyro with well-seasoned vegetables, eggs, and Cava’s famous tzatziki was hearty and satisfying.
After several rounds of heavy fare, we pounced on the beautiful smoked salmon plate. The presentation was simple—topped with sliced cucumber and a drizzle of yogurt—as is my preference with items like this that don’t need a lot of extras.
My co-Bitch and I made a half-hearted attempt to dismiss the idea of dessert, but easily caved at the mention of banana fritters. We were not disappointed (well, maybe a little, in ourselves). Fried dough surrounded a ball of delicious, gooey banana. Each fritter was drizzled with honey and sprinkled with powdered sugar and toasted, crunchy walnuts.
Between all of the dishes we ordered and the bottomless bowl of fluffy pita bread, it took a lot of willpower to get out of our booth and venture on to the rest of our day. While many of the dishes served at Cava’s brunch are far from your traditional Greek menu, they are all aligned with the restaurant’s commitment to serving good food.
The Bitches say: A. An affordable, delicious, fill-you-up Mediterranean brunch. We loved everything from pita breads to the carnivorous share plates to the heavenly French toast.
Locations in D.C., Arlington, and Rockville
527 8th St. S.E.
Cava Mezze serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays but only at its D.C. and Arlington locations.